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Roslove Part Two: Kyle Love

Reply to Matthew Haldeman-Time or visit his website

Added to the Roswell Slash Archive November 14, 2000

Roslove, a slashfic in three parts
Copyright April 30-August 2, 2000 by the writer known as Matthew Haldeman-Time
Rating: NC-17 for graphic male-male sex
Pairing: Kyle Valenti/Max Evans/Michael Guerin (not really a pairing, then, I suppose)
Disclaimer: "Roswell," with its related characters and themes, does not belong to me.  I make no money from this venture.
Dedication: This slashfic is for Ewan McGregor.
Wherein Max takes up finger painting; Michael admits that he's too sexy for his own good; and Kyle puts the "fuck" in "Fucking Max Evans."
Notice: The obvious quotation bookending this slashfic is from William Shakespeare's Hamlet 3.1.  Also, I ripped off the opening story idea from Annie's "The Genesis Series" without her knowledge.



        And then there was that stupid rave out at the corner of town.  Everyone was going to be there.  The entire team was going after the game.  Party party party, dancing and drinking, drinking and sex, let's go get girls and get bombed and get laid.  He went, of course, without a second thought except to hope that his father didn't bust the place.

        He showed up after the game, high on the buzz of a win, ready to par-tay.  He had a beer with his friends, joked and had fun, then went off to find a bathroom.  He couldn't, so he went off down behind the building and behind the bushes and peed there.  Then he went off back to get another beer.  Kyle wasn't a big drinker, but two beers was okay once in a while.  He found his second beer, and then he found Liz.  She looked upset, and she was looking for him.  "Kyle, I - - are you drunk?"

        "I'm drinking, not drunk," he told her.

        "I need your help."

        "I am at your service.  Disposal.  Something."  Maybe he was drunk.  Come on, two beers?

        "Max needs your help."

        "Nope, never mind."

        "Come on, Kyle."  She grabbed his elbow in two hands and hauled him off away from the beer.  She was pretty strong for such a little person.  He disengaged himself, held her hand, and let her lead him away to Maria's car.  Maria was there, too?  What fun.

        "When was the last time I kissed you?" he asked Liz.

        "Yesterday," she said.

        "Really kissed you."

        "Not since before...the shooting."

        "Is that my fault or yours?"

        "Both.  Come on, get in the backseat.  How drunk are you?"

        "Just a little.  Gimme a minute and I'll be fine."

        "Good."  She believed him.  That was sort of cool, wasn't it?  Maria drove them, Liz in the passenger seat, Kyle belted in the back and gazing out the window.  He'd never been in Maria's car.  Maria's mother's car.  "Where are we going?"

        "We're going to see Max.  His house."

        "I've been to Max's house."

        "You have?"  Liz sounded surprised.

        "I was in Max's bedroom."

        "You were?"  Maria sounded alarmed.

        "Max's ears stick out."

        Liz laughed.  That ended the conversation until they got to the Evans' residence.  "Their parents are visiting the Spencers," Liz said, "but they'll be back later."  He got out of the car, into the cool night air.  He was steadier now, much more sober.  "Why am I here?"

        "Max needs help," Liz said.

        "What am I supposed to do?" Kyle asked.  "Call 911 yourself."

        "Just come on, Kyle."  Liz grabbed his hand and pulled him along, walking right into the house.  Isabel was in the living room, waiting for them impatiently.  "He actually came?" she asked softly, surprised, displeased.

        "Hey, if you don't want me here, I'll go," Kyle said.

        "You've been drinking," she said.

        "He's okay," Liz said.

        "He's your boyfriend," Isabel said.  She raised her voice.  "Michael!"  There was a pause, then Michael came into the living room from down the hallway.

        "He came," Michael said.

        "I'm leaving," Kyle said.

        "Go back to Max's room," Liz said.  "Kyle, would you just go?" she asked, quiet but insistent.  He glared at her and walked back to Max's room.

        Max was lying in bed, covers up to mid-chest, wearing a T-shirt.  He looked sort of gray, and his bangs were in disarray.  He looked really surprised to see Kyle, and not in a happy way.

        "Liz brought me," Kyle said.  "What's going on?"  He let Max hear his own displeasure.

        "I'm sick," Max said.

        "So?"

        "I've never been sick.  We don't get sick."

        "Ever?"

        Max coughed.  "I didn't know it would be like this."

        "So what is it?  What's wrong with you?"

        "We're not sure.  They're trying not to panic.  I'm trying not to panic."

        "So this is really serious.  You never get sick, now you're sick, it could get awful and you'd die.  It isn't affecting Michael and Isabel?"

        "Apparently it isn't contagious, or at least we haven't seen signs of it."

        "That's good.  So you can't see a doctor?  Because you might be discovered, if they run tests?"

        "Right."  Max coughed again.

        "So, do you have a fever?  Sneezing?  Vomiting?"

        "Vomiting, definitely.  I did have a fever, and I have one now, but in between my body temperature dropped."

        "Dropped?  Like what, hypothermia?"

        "Close to it, from what Liz says."

        "So what am I doing here?"

        "I don't know.  I guess Liz thought that it was a good idea.  Could you sit down?  You're looming over me and it's not helping any.  It makes the dizziness worse."

        Kyle debated just leaving, but grabbed Max's desk chair and pulled it to the bed, straddling it backwards.  "Are you gay or bisexual?"

        "Gay."

        "Why aren't you in love with Michael?  Besides the obvious."

        "He's straight.  He's my best friend.  I love him very much.  But I'm not in love with him.  I'm not attracted to him sexually."

        "But you are attracted to me."

        Max just coughed.

        "Sexually."

        "Yes, Kyle."

        "You want water or something?"

        "I just throw it up again."

        "Pleasant."

        "Very.  I had no idea that it tasted that awful."

        "Yeah, it's pretty nasty."

        "You've been drinking."

        "God, people, I'm not wasted," Kyle said.  "Two beers, that's it.  Have you ever had a drink?"

        "No.  Michael did, to see if it would affect our systems any differently than it does standard-issue people.  Apparently it hits us a lot harder; it makes us drunk faster and lasts longer.  That hasn't convinced me to try it."

        "Standard-issue," Kyle said.  "Nice term."

        "Thanks.  Did you win?"

        "Win what?"

        "The game tonight."

        "Oh.  Of course."

        Max smiled.

        "You follow the games?"

        "I'm missing the stereotypical jock gene, but I am conversant in athletics, and I-"

        "You're conversant in athletics.  What, that means that you know what a free throw is?"

        "It means I can talk about sports, understand other people's conversations, I know teams and players, I know the rules, I know the moves, but I can't play to save my life."

        "You think you're going to die from this?"

        "It's possible."

        "Nothing I can do?"

        "To save myself, I'd have to report it to a medical authority, and that..."

        "Would make everything worse, and probably wouldn't save you at all in the long run.  It would only fuck up everything royally, and-"

        "Exactly."

        "So we're all just going to watch you die?  What about your parents?  Won't they take you to a doctor?"

        "If it comes down to that, I'll just have to tell them the truth.  Or cut and run.  We - - Isabel and Michael and I - - are trying to decide which would be worse."

        "Both pretty much suck.  And wouldn't save your life."

        "I'd like to spare my parents as much grief as possible."

        "You think they love you enough not to freak at the idea of having reared and housed...you?"

        "I think so.  But it's still a gamble."

        "Is talking good for you?  Shouldn't you be resting?"

        "Probably."

        "You want me to go?"

        "No."

        Kyle crossed his arms over the back of the chair and rested his chin there.  "So you're going to sleep and I'm going to sit here and be bored?"

        "Keep talking."

        "About what?  You know everything about me already."

        "Not everything."

        "So that one-way street, it can go both ways."

        "Yes."

        "Maybe you should do that with Liz.  If you're going to die.  So that she can know your experience.  I mean, considering..."

        "That I'm not standard-issue human."

        "Yeah."

        "You're not willing to take that on yourself?"

        "I think that she'd be a better recipient."

        "Not your decision to make."  Max coughed.

        "Am I upsetting you?"

        "Yes."

        "Sorry.  I don't mean to make you worse."

        "Then stop upsetting me."

        "What am I supposed to do?  I'm not used to sitting at a sickbed."

        Max rolled over, settling on his stomach, hugging his pillow.  The covers slipped, baring his boxers slightly.  He turned his head, resting his temple on the pillow, looking at Kyle.  "Tell me about when you were sick."

        "You know all about it already."

        "Tell me anyway."

        Kyle shrugged off his jacket and dropped it on the floor.  He pushed up his sleeves, baring his forearms.  "Okay.  You mean like illnesses or injuries?"

        "Both."

        "Okay.  When I get an injury, like a broken leg or something, I just grin and bear it.  I don't like to take painkillers, but sometimes you just have to.  Like when I got my wisdom teeth removed.  They were impacted, and they had to be cut out of my jaw, and I just had to take the codeine.  That stuff's wicked - - you still feel the pain, you just don't care about it anymore.  I don't get sick often, because I'm such a healthy wholesome homefed guy.  When I do, my dad's pretty much not what you'd expect.  He's all domestic and nurturing, which is so weird, but I sort of like it.  He takes good care of me.  I bet he'd love to be able to do what you can do, to heal my every hurt."

        "I wish that I could, Kyle."

        "Great, if we're talking about psychological pain now, like my mom leaving, let's just not, okay?"

        "All right.  I'm sorry."

        "I'm willing to share my life story as long as we don't analyze it and get all deep and heavy."

        "I understand."

        "So do you even know if you have a virus or a bacteria or what?"

        "Liz was trying to figure it out, but we still don't know."

        "There's nothing to make you more comfortable?  You can't take pills?  I mean, they might totally screw up your system, but maybe you'll react right and it'll help."

        "I don't want to risk it."

        "This could be over by tomorrow morning."

        "I hope so."

        "Chills, fever, vomiting.  Coughing.  Anything else?"

        "My stomach, intestines, everything, feels like it's being ripped to shreds.  My insides are just being torn apart."

        "Not good."

        "Michael wants me to sleep, Isabel's afraid that I'll slip into a coma, Maria wants me to take something, Liz says that it might make me worse, Michael says - - it's insane.  They all want to help but no one can do anything."

        "Except bring me.  And I'm not helping.  They don't even want me here."

        "I want you here."

        "You want me, period," Kyle muttered, looking away.

        "I hid it very well."

        "You sure did.  Until you started spouting love sonnets at me."

        "I never quoted poetry," Max said.  "Actually, I don't remember half of what I said to you when I made my grand confession."

        "I do."

        "Great."  Max closed his eyes and sighed.

        "Maybe you should sleep."

        "Too humiliated."

        "Humiliated?"

        "What did I say to you?"

        "I won't repeat it."

        "I remember telling you that I'm in love with you."

        "Twice."

        "Twice?  That's great.  And I said something about you being too important to lose, and something about putting my hands on you."  Max's eyes were still closed.  "What stuck with me, what I do remember clearly, is how you just stared at me.  You stared into my eyes like you were having this huge revelation and this whole deep conversation.  What were you thinking?"

        "That something really important was happening and I didn't have the language to describe any of it.  Which is why I'm a jock and not an intellectual."

        "You're very smart."

        "According to you, but you aren't exactly unbiased."

        "Being in love with you and everything."  Max smiled.

        "You aren't going to die, are you?"

        "I hope not."

        Kyle kept silent, and Max fell asleep.  Kyle propped his chin on his arms again and watched Max sleep.  Isabel stopped by and left again, wordless.

        "I'd put my hands on you."

        "You're the first and only person I've ever connected with."

        "I'd put my hands on you."

        Kyle's hand reached out; his fingertips met the skin of Max's arm just above the elbow, just beneath the sleeve of Max's T-shirt.  He slid his fingers up a little, getting up underneath the cotton, stroking warm skin.  Then he pulled his hand away quickly.  It was just skin, just human flesh, nothing special about it.  How many people had he touched, brushed against, wrestled with, in his years?  And suddenly this one brush of fingers to flesh was significant?

        But it was.  It felt like nothing else he'd ever done.  Touching the guys wasn't like this.  Touching Liz wasn't like this.  This was warm and alive and smooth and satin and silk and-

        -and Max's eyes were opening.  "Give me your hand."

        "Why?"

        "I want to see if I can do something.  If you get offended you can  just run out; I don't feel like chasing after you in this condition, and Michael won't try to make you stay."

        "I'm sure."  He held out his hand, tensing his jaw, ready for something bad to happen.  What Max wanted he didn't know, but he didn't want to give this guy his hand.

        Max's fingertips grazed his open palm.  Silver lines appeared in their wake.

        "Shit!  Get rid of that!"

        Max lazily drifted his fingers over Kyle's skin again, and now green lines crossed the silver.  A few minutes of this, and Kyle's hand was a patchwork of multi-colored lines spreading across Kyle's fingers and around Kyle's knuckles.  "I can turn you colors," Max said, sounding interested but also detached, as though this were unreal, a dream.  Then he closed his eyes, pressed his palm to Kyle's, clasped their hands, and fell asleep.  In sleep, his grip loosened, and Kyle's hand removed itself.

        Kyle looked at his hand.  Clean and clear.  Just as it should be.  Then he took Max's hand in his and looked at it; it looked like any normal human hand.  It didn't look capable of painting rainbows at will.

        What else could this guy do?



        Max awoke, eyes opening.  "You're still here?"

        "Looks like it," Kyle said.  "You feeling any better?"

        "What time - - four thirty-eight?  You're kidding me."

        "Your parents are home."  Kyle's voice was low, the door closed.  "Michael's still around here somewhere, but Liz and Maria left hours ago."

        "Shouldn't you go?"

        Kyle shrugged.  "I called my father, told him I'd be home later.  He's used to me staying at one of the guys' houses sometimes, so it's not a big deal.  I didn't tell him whose house, and he didn't ask."

        "Shouldn't you get some sleep?"

        "I can sleep later.  So are you feeling better or worse or what?" he asked impatiently.

        "Did I really start painting your skin?"

        "If that's what you call it, yeah."

        "Sorry.  I'm not quite myself today."

        "What else can you do?"

        "What else?"

        "Magic tricks."

        "Stick around and find out.  Why is it really hot in here?"

        "It isn't."

        "It is," Max insisted grimly.

        Kyle considered.  What did people do when they had high temperatures?  "Shouldn't you take a cold bath or something?"

        "No, I'd rather just lie here," Max said.

        "What, you're afraid that your weird DNA is going to react badly to cold water?" Kyle asked.  "You freak.  Come on, get up."

        "Up?" Max asked.  "I don't think that I could roll over, much less sit up, and standing is out of the question.  If you want me to walk, you'd better just-"

        Kyle stood, shoving aside the chair, and grabbed Max by the ankles.  He yanked, and Max fell onto the floor with a thud and a yelp.  Max glared up at Kyle.  "If this is what you call helping, you are sadly - - what are you doing?"

        "I'm dragging your butt to the bathroom.  Then I'm going to get Michael and he's going to make sure you take a nice cold soak.  Now shut up or we'll wake up your parents."  He'd grabbed Max under the armpits and was hauling Max's dead weight across the floor and down the hallway.  In the bathroom, he dropped Max and turned on the light.  He started to run the bathwater and left.

        Soon after, Michael entered the bathroom, closed the door, and said, "Let's get naked, Maximilian."

        "Where's the big jock?" Max asked.  "Am I dead yet?"

        "Not yet," Michael said.  "If you think that I'm just going to let you lie there while I lovingly undress you and bathe you..."

        Max moaned, closed his eyes, and tugged up his T-shirt.  "Life is cruel.  I want to throw up."

        "Don't start that again."

        "Where's Kyle?"

        "He left you for one of those little blonde teenybop singers," Michael said.

        Max slowly and uncertainly got out of his T-shirt, then gradually worked off his boxers.  He crawled over to the tub and hoisted himself in, landing with a grunt and a splash.  "Cold cold cold cold!"

        "Good," Michael said, with a Michael smile.

        "Michael, where's Kyle?" Max asked.  "Cold."

        "I'm not in charge of the superjock's whereabouts," Michael said.

        "Did he go home?"

        "Home is there the heart is," Michael said.  "If home were where the brain is, he'd-"

        "Michael."

        "-live entirely in his boxers.  Not that he doesn't already."

        "Michael, please, I don't really need to hear your fifty-eighth lecture in twenty-four hours on the evils of Kyle Valenti.  I just want to sleep, vomit, die, and get out of this bathtub."

        "In that order?"

        Max moaned and closed his eyes.  Michael scooped water over him.  Eventually there was a knock at the door.  Michael said, "Rise and shine, Maximilian."  He moaned softly and opened his eyes.  "You need new clothes.  Don't run off anywhere, now."  Michael left the bathroom, and returned shortly with a different T-shirt and boxers.  Max crawled out of the bathtub and onto the tile, drying himself aimlessly, then redressing himself.  He crawled on his hands and knees to his bedroom, and Michael hoisted him onto the bed.  "Wait," Max said.

        "Want me to tuck you in?" Michael asked.

        "These...you changed my sheets."

        "I was with you the whole time.  When did I have a chance to change your sheets?"

        "Michael-"

        "Are you going to sleep so I can get some sleep?"

        "Michael..."

        Michael dropped a kiss on Max's forehead.  "Good night, sunshine."  Michael left Max alone in the darkness.

        Max couldn't sleep.  The claws tearing apart his insides had returned with a vengeance.  Where was Kyle?  His heart was racing and he couldn't breathe properly.  He heard the front door, then footsteps.  Isabel, that sounded like Isabel, what was she doing?  She was just coming home? From where?  Hushed whispers, then Isabel going into her room and someone coming into his room, closing the door, it was Kyle, Kyle was back.

        "Is that you breathing?" Kyle asked, nearing the bed, turning on the lamp.  "You look like shit, Evans."

        "Where did you go with Isabel?"  A coughing fit wracked his body.  Oh, that hurt, deep down in his chest.  He collapsed, sweating again, heart racing away, and Kyle frowned.

        "You're worse."

        "I was better."

        "Maybe I shouldn't have moved you."

        "Maybe you shouldn't have gone."

        "We went to the store.  The only thing open now is the gas station, and they don't really have the best selection.  Not to mention that Isabel and I aren't exactly equipped to prescribe any medicine.  We got this, it's supposed to settle your stomach, and lower your fever.  I'm going to get you some water so you can take it.  And cough drops, I don't know, maybe that'll help."  Kyle looked him over.  "At least you stopped breathing like that."

        "Panic attack," Max said, realizing.  "I think that I was having a panic attack."

        "Why?"

        "You left."

        "So?  I'm not exactly around you twenty-four hours a day, you know.  I'm never around."

        "I wish that you were."  Cough.

        "You think that's what the rest of this is?"

        "The rest of what?"

        "Well, you never get sick.  Suddenly you're sick.  Maybe it's psychosomatic.  You're making yourself sick.  Maybe because you want attention, which hello, you have now.  Or maybe you're so upset emotionally or psychologically or whatever that it's made your body ill.  You know?"

        "That's twisted," Max said.  "I'm not that..."  He licked his lips.  "Maybe I am."

        "That's pretty sick, Evans."

        "I didn't..."  He ripped up his throat with more coughs.

        "I'm not giving you medicine if you aren't really sick."

        "I was feeling better," Max said, "when I woke up and you were still here.  Then you left and I got worse all over again."

        "So it's my fault?  You're sick because I'm not in love with you?  Get over it."

        "I wish."

        Kyle dropped his jacket and resumed the chair, correctly this time.  He leaned forward, forearms across his knees.  "So what, if I stay here you'll get all better?"

        "It was easy to fall asleep when you were here."

        "Well, I'm right here, so fall asleep, get better, wake up, and I'll go home and get some rest myself."

        "You can go home now.  Now that I understand what I've done, I should be all right."

        "Oh, and when I get a tearful phone call from Liz tomorrow saying you're dead-"

        "I'm not going to die."

        "You wanna argue with me or do you wanna get better?  Now go to sleep, E.T."

        "Don't start," Max said, and closed his eyes.  "There's a velociraptor trying to claw its way out of my stomach."

        "You saw Jurassic Park?"

        "Tons of fun."

        "Hey, is Jeff Goldblum an alien?"

        "Kyle..."  Max shifted onto his stomach, grimacing at the pain.  He buried his face in his pillow and moaned softly.

        "You know what you need?"

        "Morphine."

        "A boyfriend."

        "God, Kyle, shut up."

        "It wouldn't help?"

        "It doesn't work that way.  I can't just fall for someone else.  I tried, believe me.  I never said that falling for you was a good idea.  My life would be easier if I were in love with someone else, or not at all."

        "So you're as pissed off about this as I am."

        "Yes.  Probably more."

        "Good."  Kyle rubbed one strong hand over Max's back.  "Get some sleep.  I'll stick around for a while."

        "Have you ever slept with someone?"

        "You were the one all inside my head.  You mean sex?"

        "No, I mean...  You've had sex?"

        "Oh, you mean have I shared a bed.  Yeah, sure.  Sleepovers, road trips, whatever.  Wait, are you trying to ask me to sleep with you?"

        "Kill two birds with one stone."

        "Cute, Evans."

        "Kyle, it's very late."

        "No, it's just sort of early."

        "Which is worse.  You need to get some sleep, and I don't want you to leave-"

        "You were the one telling me to go, and I was the one trying to stay.  Wait, why was I trying to stay?"

        "You didn't want me to die."

        "Right."

        "Thanks."

        "No problem.  So if I sleep with you, it's just like two people on one mattress, right?  You won't start putting your hands in fun places?"

        "I do possess some self-control, Kyle."

        "Scoot, Evans."

        Max, shocked that Kyle actually was going to do it, slid over closer to the wall until his back was against it.  He watched Kyle's shoe removal, then watched uncomprehendingly as Kyle laid down with him, beside him, on one side facing him, propped on one elbow, temple resting on one fist.  "Sleep," Kyle ordered.  Max closed his eyes.  Kyle's right hand rested on his hand, and he inhaled gently, trying to relax.  Then his eyes opened again.  Kyle was a lot closer than he remembered, but didn't seem to have moved.  "You didn't answer my question."

        "Which question?" Kyle asked.

        "Have you had sex?"

        "No."



        Kyle's eyes opened.  Max was looking at him.  His hands were on Max, beneath Max's shirt, on Max's sides.  He removed his hands.  "You feel better?"

        "Much."

        "What time is it?"

        "Almost nine."

        "Why are you staring at me?"

        "There's...  I don't remember touching you."

        "Touching me where?"

        "There's silver on your face, your neck."

        "Get rid of it."

        "Excuse me," Max said softly, and those lashes lowered a notch.  Max's eyes slid to the side of his face, and Max's fingertips brushed over his cheek, thumb rubbing along his jaw.  The fingers slid down, following a path on his neck.  Max leaned in just a fraction closer, looking to make sure that all of the silver was gone, or else just staring at him for fun; he wasn't sure.  Then Max looked down, and Max's hand moved down too and wrapped around his forearm quickly; he felt that melted loose sensation again, like he had when Max had removed those first incriminating handprints.

        "What makes the silver?" Kyle asked.  "I mean, you aren't like Midas, are you?  You can touch regular stuff and people and not be finger-painting."

        "You're the first person I've ever turned colors," Max said.  "I can touch you and have no effect."  He put his hand on Kyle's arm again, then removed it.  "Nothing.  But I suppose that when I concentrate, or when my mind's on something - - healing you, or dreaming - - I can turn you silver, or any other color."

        "So you were dreaming, and that's what did it just now.  What were you dreaming?"

        "I think that I was trying to picture you naked," Max said.  "Not the...fun parts, as you called them.  Just...regular parts."

        "Picture me naked," Kyle repeated.  "Okay.  Don't ever do that again."

        "You're a guy, Kyle.  You must have legs and a torso like any other guy.  It's hardly criminal to wonder about that."

        "You get off wondering what my legs look like?"

        "Kyle, are you sure that you want to ask me how I get off while you're in my bed and I'm in my underwear?"

        "You are feeling better."

        "Much."

        "You gonna get your butt outta bed and get dressed and eat something?"

        "I think so."

        "Good.  I'm going home."

        "Are you going to start ignoring me again?"

        "Yes.  Immediately.  As soon as I'm out that door, it's over."

        "We'll always have...well, nothing as interesting as Paris."

        "Don't pull this shit again, Evans.  I'm not going to come running every time you cough."

        "I didn't do it on purpose."

        "Good."



        Two weeks passed.  Kyle ignored Max, refused to talk with Liz about Max's illness, and moved on with his life.  He remembered the silver streaks on his palm, the handprint.  He remembered Max touching his skin, removing the silver, removing the evidence of touch.

        Kyle had a silver pen.  He toyed with it one evening, wrote his name in broad silver strokes on white paper, doodled a little.  Then he ran it over his palm.

        What the fuck are you doing, Valenti?

        He went to the bathroom, scrubbed his hand clean, washed off all traces of the pen.  Then he glanced up into the mirror.  Clutched the pen in one hand.  Very carefully drew a line along his jaw, made it thicker, lengthened it down his neck.

        He heard his father's footstep in the living room.

        He rubbed hard with soap and water, trying to remove his handiwork.  You're fucked up, Valenti.  He took a deep breath and looked at himself carefully.  No silver.  Fucked up.

        Two days later, he did it again.

        Two days after that, he grabbed Max in the hallway.  "You and I need to talk."

        "Kyle," Max said evenly.

        "Today.  Your house."

        "All right."  Max moved away, went down the hall.  Kyle turned and slammed into Michael Guerin.  "Fuck off," they said to each other, and he walked away, hoping that Michael hadn't heard Max but not really worried if Michael had.



        Kyle rang the Evans' bell after school.  He didn't want anyone to be home.  Anyone besides Max, that was.  Max opened the door.  "Your folks here?"

        "No.  Isabel's out, too.  You want to come inside?"

        Kyle nodded and entered, closing the door.  "I want you to do something for me but you can't ask why."

        "I can't ask why?"

        "Right."  He tried to stare Max down.  It didn't really work, but Max said, "As long as it isn't illegal or dangerous, I suppose that I could do it.  What do you want?"

        "Can we do this in your room?"

        "All right."  Max led the way and closed the door.  Kyle turned on the light and pulled the blinds shut so that they couldn't be seen.  "What do you want?" Max asked.

        "I want you to touch me.  Silver.  And not rub it off again."

        "Kyle, I can't.  It's too dangerous.  Someone will see it."

        "Come on, Evans."

        "Kyle, no.  You're in physical contact, half-dressed, in locker rooms, naked, you're too easily exposed.  I can't."

        "There's one place I guarantee you no one will see it."

        "And where's that?"

        "Inside crease of my thigh, right...you know."

        "No.  No, Kyle."

        "God, I'm not coming on to you, I'm not asking you to cop a feel.  I just..."

        "What if someone sees it?"

        "No one will see it."

        "You can't promise me that."

        "You've trusted me this far."

        "Kyle, are you honestly ready to have me touch you?  Especially there?  Do you know what you're asking?"

        "Do it."

        "I'm not comfortable with touching you there.  And I don't think that you have the right to ask me for this."

        "You saved my life.  I'm keeping your secret, which saves your life.  That makes us even.  When you were sick, I came here and I stayed here.  Now it's your turn to do something for me."

        "That isn't how it works, Kyle.  Whether we're friends or not, that isn't how any relationship works.  You can't keep a tally sheet of who owes whom what."

        "So do this for me because I'm asking you to do it."

        "I shouldn't do this, and you shouldn't ask me to do this.  I won't ask why, Kyle.  Just please try to respect how I feel about this.  I'm not comfortable with touching you, and I'm not going to be comfortable looking at you in any state of undress.  That said, you might as well get naked."

        Kyle had been naked in front of other guys before, but this was oddly intimate and embarrassing, alone with Max, closed up in the bedroom, undressing before an audience.  He removed his shoes and socks.  He pulled off his shirt - - cotton, long-sleeved, buttons at the neck - - because he would have felt weird standing there in socks and a shirt.  Not that being entirely naked was going to be any better.  He considered, briefly, as he unbuttoned his jeans.  He stepped out of his pants and looked to Max, who was standing there looking at the wall.

        "Evans."

        Max's head turned to him, eyes rigidly above his neck.  "Yes?"

        "Sit down."  He sat on the carpeted floor.  Max frowned but sat facing him.  He shifted closer and said, "Give me your hand."  Max held out one hand, the right one.  He took it in his own right hand.  "You can close your eyes if you want."  Max's eyes closed.  Kyle, still in his boxers, spread his legs further, guiding Max's hand closer.  Left hand tugging aside the material, he negotiated Max's forefinger through the leghole, until Max's fingertip met the high inner crease where his thigh met his torso.  In one slow, steady stroke he eased Max's finger along that crease, right alongside his balls, where no one would dare to look.  It left a streak of glistening, metallic silver.  He dropped Max's hand, which jerked away instantly.



        No one could see the mark.  It was too close to his balls, obscured by pubic hair, shadowed and private.  But he could see it, if he wanted to look.  And he could run his finger along it, stroke it.  Usually when he jerked off, one hand would play with his balls.  Lately, he'd been stroking the silver streak instead, rubbing it, legs spread, eyes closed.

        Felt so good.



        He was dreaming, wandering around the halls of his high school with some of the cast from "Friends" looking for Chandler.  Funny how Joey seemed more upset than Monica that Chandler was missing.  Then they turned the corner and everyone else was gone; he was alone, suddenly.  He turned around and Isabel Evans was there.

        "What do you want?" he demanded.  "What are you doing here?"

        "What do you want?" she countered.

        "Nothing."

        "Everyone wants something.  And boys your age, they all want one thing, the same thing."

        "Sex."

        "You said it."

        "I don't want you."

        "I didn't say that you did.  But who do you want, Kyle?  Do you want Liz?"

        "No, not Liz, she's...  She's my friend."

        "She's your girlfriend."

        "Not really.  Not anymore."

        "Since when?"

        "Since Fucking Max Evans started..."

        "Started what, Kyle?"

        "He's always around, he's always there, every time I turn around he's with her."

        "He doesn't want her."

        "He wants me."

        "Does that bother you?"

        "Yes."

        "Why?"

        "I want him to leave me alone."

        "He's never around you.  He hasn't seen you in weeks."

        "I see him.  He's everywhere I look.  Every time I close my eyes he's there."

        "Why is he there?"

        "He's there waiting for me.  He's just...waiting.  For me."

        "For you why?  What does he want from you?"

        "He wants...  He wants me."

        "Does he get you?"

        "Never.  Always."  She was gone.  Kyle woke up.

        The next night, the dreams began.  The hot, aching, wet dreams where Max Evans leaned in and kissed him, and touched him, and they were naked and wrapped around each other, and Max's tongue ran up the silver streak at his groin, and he woke up hard and covered in ejaculate.



        Kyle ran a hand through his hair and rang the doorbell.  The door opened.  Isabel looked at him impassively.  "Your brother here?"

        "Why?"

        "I want to talk to him."

        "About?"

        "Liz.  It'll take two minutes."

        She closed the door in his face.  He waited.  The door opened: Max.  Liquid brown eyes, soft hair, pointy ears.  "Kyle?"  Max stepped outside and closed the door.

        "I asked Liz to tell me about you, and she said that she won't without permission, so tell her that it's okay."

        "I can tell you about me," Max offered.

        "No thanks."

        "It won't take long."

        "Are you all right?"

        "I'm fine."

        "Is there anything in particular that you want to know about me?"

        "No."

        "I'm seventeen, I'm a sophomore, I'm a twin, I like tabasco sauce, I drive a Jeep, I'm not from around here...  What else?  I'm adopted, Michael's my best friend, I'm in love with the big man on campus..."

        "Have you ever been with someone?"

        "Been with someone?  Sexually?  Romantically?  No."

        "You've never kissed someone?"

        "No one.  Why?"

        Kyle wrapped his hand around Max's nape and pressed his lips to Max's.  There was one delicious, soft, sweet moment when his heart stopped and his balls ached, before he was bereft.

        "Don't make me hit you," Max said.

        "Don't get pissed."

        "Don't ever do that again."

        "I won't."  He left, fast.



        He was dreaming again.  In his dream, he was kissing Max, who was bare-chested and reclining beneath him in his bed, tugging up his shirt.

        "What are you doing?"

        He whipped around; Isabel Evans was standing by the foot of his bed, looking furious.  He turned back; Max was gone.  He looked to Isabel, just as furious.  "He's gone!"

        "What were you doing with him?!"

        "I was...  We were...  Kissing."

        "Is that all?"

        "Sometimes...sometimes he lets me...  Sometimes..."

        "Why?"

        "Feels good."

        "Sex?"

        "Max."

        "Oh, it's 'Max' now, is it?"

        "He loves me.  And he makes me feel...different."

        "So you're fucking him."

        "No.  It's not like that.  We don't, I don't, do that.  But sometimes...  It's none of your business!  I'll make love to whomever I want-"

        "Make love?"  She looked taken aback.

        His cheeks burned, but he wasn't going to let her shame him.  "We make love."  She was gone again.  He didn't know why she was always there, his conscience or his subconscious or just some weird Freudian flaw.  And Max was gone, and he wouldn't get to...

        But Max was here, right in front of him, where Isabel had been.  "Kyle?"  Looking so lost, yet so awed, that Kyle's chest went tight all of a sudden.  He moved, kneeling on the foot of the bed in front of Max.  Max wasn't in jeans anymore, just a T-shirt and boxers, like when Max slept in reality.  He held out a hand; Max took it, trembling.  He pulled Max down to sit with him, and he kissed Max, just a little at first, then hot and wet and deep, sliding his tongue into Max's mouth, one hand on Max's naked thigh.  So good.  He moaned, pulling up Max's shirt.  They had to break the kiss for Max to take off the shirt, and his mouth went to Max's neck, then down onto Max's chest as he lowered Max back on the mattress, and he licked Max's right nipple.  Warm skin, naked and alive, Max shivering beneath him, Max gasping, salt and sweet on his tongue.  When his mouth met Max's navel, his hands went to his fly; he opened his jeans, shoved them off - - pretty easy in a dream - - and he was naked, and he moved back into Max's arms, kissing Max's mouth, so sweet and wet, and Max's hands were rubbing over his torso, his shoulders and pecs and ribs, and then Max's right hand was up between his legs, and he came hard.  He kept kissing Max, wasn't about to slow down, wanted more, so much more.  He reached down inside Max's boxers.  Max actually whimpered against his mouth.  He tongue-fucked Max, who really seemed to like it, and Max's finger was rubbing over the silver streak, and he tugged down Max's boxers, and he slid down the bed and took Max's cock into his mouth.  Max screamed, actually screamed, and came, hard and fast.  Normally it lasted longer, and normally Max wasn't circumcised, and normally Max wasn't on top of him kissing him and trying to talk at the same time.  Max was rubbing his biceps and sucking his tongue and saying, "I love you I love you."

        He shoved Max away, not violently, just enough to startle them both.  He looked into Max's eyes, which suddenly went wide with fear.  "Evans?"  He woke up.



        Liz's eyes were wide, too.  "Kyle, what's wrong?"

        "Tell your little pointy-eared boyfriend to leave me the fuck alone," he said, trying not to shout.  "Tell him to stay out of my head and out of my dreams and out of my life."

        "Dreams?  Kyle, was Max in your dreams?"

        Holy shit.  He'd thought that it was impossible, was sure that he was reading a lot more into it than really could happen, but maybe...holy shit.  "Isabel, too."

        "What did they do?"

        "Isabel plays twenty questions and Evans practically raped me."

        "Kyle!"

        "Ask him yourself.  And tell them to leave me the fuck alone."

        "Kyle, Max would never hurt you."

        "He was in my bed, naked, on top of me.  What do you call it?"



        He hated to sleep.  When he did sleep, he spent his dreams being paranoid, worried that someone would show up, sure that the Max he saw in his dreams was the real Max.  But when he did see Max, it wasn't the real Max, it was dream-Max, and after some bizarreness and anger and confusion, he always ended up kissing dream-Max.  Isabel and real Max never made an appearance.


        After school, he went to the weight room.  Eventually the others started to leave.  Coach Johnson said, "About time to go, Valenti."

        "Yes, sir."  He finished his reps, wiped off some sweat, and went to the locker room.  There, on the bench, forearms braced on knees, head down, was Fucking Max Evans, sitting in front of his locker.  Max's head snapped up; their eyes met.  "What are you doing here?"

        "I need to talk to you."

        "Sorry.  Not interested."  Max's gaze fluttered over him, curious but skittish, before Max looked away fast.  He glanced down: sneakers, socks, shorts, tank top, sweat.  Strong legs exposed with pretty much visible thigh, muscular arms bared, nothing overexciting.  Hell, might as well give the guy a good reason to be nervous.  He walked over, opened his locker, toed out of his sneakers, pulled off his socks.  Right there, standing directly to Fucking Max Evans' right, he pulled off his tank top and reached for the waistband of his shorts.

        "I'm sorry."

        His hands stilled.  "For what?"

        "Invading your privacy.  Isabel's been monitoring your dreams off and on.  I didn't know about it, until she told me that she'd seen you...  I didn't want to intrude, but to be honest I wondered whether you really were making out with me in your dreams, and why.  When she confronted you, I was there, you just couldn't see me.  You called it making love, Kyle.  I thought that maybe when you'd kissed me before, that you'd meant it.  So I...  I didn't mean for it to happen, I thought that we could talk, I didn't know that...  What I did was wrong, and there's no defense.  I'm sorry."

        "Making out," Kyle said.  "We've done everything except anal sex, Evans."

        "Why?"  Max was standing now, and he turned and faced Max.

        "Why are we getting it on in my dreams?  Because I want you.  I've wanted you since I had your hand practically on my balls.  I've wanted you since I was lying in bed with you.  I've wanted you since you invited me into your room.  I've wanted you since you told me to look into your eyes.  I've wanted you since you were playing eye-fuck with my girlfriend."  He kissed Max.  Right there in the locker room where anyone could walk in, in the locker room that epitomized his heterosexual jock life.  Right there, in that locker room, Fucking Max Evans gave him a blow job.  He unloaded his balls down Fucking Max Evans' throat, standing there in the locker room, leaning against his locker.

        Max stood while backing up, staring at him, backing up faster, turning and running.

        "Evans!" Kyle shouted.  He cursed, dragging his clothes together again, slamming his locker shut, running after Max.  He got into the parking lot in time to see Max get into the Jeep.  "Evans!" he shouted.  Max took off down the road.  Kyle threw his bag, kicked a nearby car hard enough to set off its alarm, and cursed a blue streak.

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